Feeds

Can it be true? That I hold here, in my mortal hand, a nugget of PUREST ... BLACK?

Brit boffins stumble on wonder material while down the pub

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

British boffins have constructed a light-absorbing nano-material that could improve the accuracy and sensitivity of imaging and optics systems.

Researchers at Surrey NanoSystems say that their Vantablack material, built from carbon nanotubes, is capable of absorbing as much as 99.96 per cent of incident radiation to create a material that appears a far darker shade of black than any previously manufactured. Apparently, light enters the material, and is absorbed and converted to heat before it can escape.

Aside from being the envy of goths the world over, the Vantablack materials will have a number of practical uses. In areas such as targeting instruments, telescopes and optical calibration, the ability to coat objects in the low-reflection material will improve accuracy and sensitivity.

"Vantablack is a major breakthrough by UK industry in the application of nanotechnology to optical instrumentation," claimed Surrey NanoSystems CTO Ben Jensen.

"For example, it reduces stray-light, improving the ability of sensitive telescopes to see the faintest stars, and allows the use of smaller, lighter sources in space-borne black body calibration systems."

The Vantablack ... Credit: Surrey Nanoscience

Nanomaterial, or a rift in the temporal plane?

Surrey researchers believe that the lightweight material will be highly thermally conductive and can be applied to both flat and three dimensional surfaces. Intended markets could include spacecraft and aeronautics. The company said that it will be constructing the Vantablack material in house as well as working with third-party manufacturers.

"We are now scaling up production to meet the requirements of our first customers in the defence and space sectors, and have already delivered our first orders," Jensen said.

On how the material was created, he quipped to the Guardian: "We were in the research lab getting very frustrated. We raced down to the pub and had a lightbulb moment."

As manufacturing techniques become cheaper and more practical, researchers have been seeking to integrate carbon nanotube into various materials and applications. Recent uses for the technology include bullet-proof textiles and highly sensitive conductive sensors.

"This [Vantablack] is not a groundbreaking thing," sniffed professor George Stylios at the school of textiles and design at Heriot-Watt university to the Graun. "It's a progression of a group of scientists, of companies that try to manipulate materials to push the boundaries." ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
Ex-Soviet engines fingered after Antares ROCKET launch BLAST
Speculation rife, but Orbital claims it's too early to tell
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
NASA: Spacecraft crash site FOUND ON MOON RIM
'What fun!' exlaims NASA boffin who found the LADEE
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
The Heartbleed Bug: how to protect your business with Symantec
What happens when the next Heartbleed (or worse) comes along, and what can you do to weather another chapter in an all-too-familiar string of debilitating attacks?